At a time when China’s partners are abandoning it, North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un seems to have given a major blow to Beijing. The authoritarian leader opened a rare Congress of the ruling Workers’ Party for the first time in the past five years. Interestingly, the Congress has been organised ahead of an upcoming transition in the White House. So, why did Kim suddenly hold a rare gathering of the ruling party?
Was the eighth Congress of North Korea’s ruling party supposed to give a belligerent message to the incoming Biden administration? Well, the gathering did carry a message. But this time, the Rocketman did not try to flaunt his nuclear power. Kim seems to be actually admitting that making Pyongyang a Chinese proxy was a huge mistake. He even called the last five years “unprecedented” and the “worst of the worst” for North Korea.
North Korean Supreme Leader’s remarks actually manifest regret. The Rocketman even admitted that his country’s economic development plan had fallen short in “almost all areas”. But then, Pyongyang doesn’t have any economic plans as such.
Being an unindustrialised nation without self-sufficiency in even food security, North Korea is dependent on foreign aid for everything from food to medicines. So, the North Korean leader was actually talking about his foreign policy and ‘aid’ diplomacy. Over the last five years or so, Kim has chosen China over the West. Snubbing attempts by South Korea and the US to diffuse tensions, the North Korean leader often turned belligerent and issued nuclear threats at Beijing’s behest.
However, North Korea’s recent pro-China foreign policy has ruined its economy. By not entertaining the US President Donald Trump’s attempts to bridge the gap between North Korea and the democratic world, Pyongyang only invited punitive sanctions that have left the Communist nation grappling for help.
And what did China do? It simply abandoned North Korea in times of crisis. China-North Korea trade slid dramatically last year, while North Korea’s fragile medical infrastructure struggled to keep the Pandemic at bay. At some level, China has become too fragile to look after itself following a Pandemic and a huge global backlash. And now, Kim cannot expect Beijing to take care of North Korea’s needs.
Therefore, Kim said, “The surest and fastest way to tackle the current multiple challenges facing us is to make every possible effort to strengthen our own power and our own self-reliant capacity.”
And it isn’t as if the reality of Chinese abandonment has dawned upon Kim all of a sudden. In October last year, he even started shedding tears, while admitting, “Our people have placed trust, as high as the sky and as deep as the sea, in me, but I have failed to always live up to it satisfactorily.” The North Korean leader also issued a rare apology to his countrymen and said, “I am really sorry for that.”
By admitting that he hasn’t been able to meet his economic development plans, Kim is actually reaching out to Seoul and Washington. North Korea’s Supreme Leader is admitting that his belligerence was misguided. Kim knows that he will have to make such gestures, because Joe Biden- the US President-elect isn’t going to engage him, unlike Trump.
To put it simply, Kim needs economic aid for North Korea’s sanctions-ravaged economy. Meanwhile, China’s own economic downfall doesn’t offer much help. So, Kim wants help from free world countries like the US, South Korea and Japan. And North Korea’s Supreme Leader is thus lamenting over his wrong policies over the last five years.
Leave a Reply